The Golden Temple, Amritsar


A watercolour painting of the Harimandir or ‘Temple of God’, situated in Amritsar in the Indian Panjab, executed by an anonymous artist in the Panjab style in the 1860’s.

The painting

Harimandir Sahib, popularly known as the Golden Temple, is Sikhism’s most sacred shrine. Built at the behest of the fifth Guru, Arjan Dev, its structure is replete with symbolic meaning. The temple is approached by a causeway and stands at the centre of a pool of holy water, the Amrit Sarovar or ‘Pool of Nectar’, from which the city takes its name. Its construction was completed in 1604 at the same time as the compilation of the Ādi Granth, the greatly revered Sikh sacred scripture, which was subsequently installed there.

The centrality of the Ādi Granth in Sikh worship and the profound reverence accorded to it as the manifest body of the Gurū is reflected in its honorific title of Gurū Granth Sāhib.

Why is it interesting?

This watercolour was sent to England to be displayed at the International Exhibition held in London in 1862. It does not appear in the Exhibition catalogue published in the same year, so there is a possibility that it was not included. Although the artist who produced it is anonymous, an accompanying label shows that it was drawn at Amritsar under the direction of Lalla Chumba Mull. On European paper with a watermark dated 1854, the painting is inscribed in Persian characters: Naqshah i sri darbar sahib jiv waqi‘ah i shahr i Amritsar -jiv parastish-gah i Sikhan (‘Picture of the Holy Sikh Temple situated in the city of Amritsar; the holy worshipping place of the Sikhs’).

Full title:
The Golden Temple, Amritsar
c. 1860
Usage terms
Public Domain
Held by
British Library
Add Or 486

Full catalogue details

Related articles

Origins and development of Sikh faith: The Gurus

Article by:
Eleanor Nesbitt

Gurus are central to the Sikh faith. Eleanor Nesbitt looks at the founder of the Sikh faith – Guru Nanak, the concept of Guru in Sikhism, the central principles of the Gurus’ teachings and the sacred scripture – the Guru Granth Sahib.

Sikh prayer and worship

Article by:
Eleanor Nesbitt
Devotional texts, Sikhism

The Guru Granth Sahib plays an integral part in the lives of Sikhs. Eleanor Nesbitt describes the rituals that surround it and its role in the daily lives and life cycle rites of Sikhs, also exploring Sikh daily prayer, devotional songs and festivals.

Sikh sacred places

Article by:
Eleanor Nesbitt
Pilgrimage, text and place, Sikhism

Eleanor Nesbitt explores Sikh gurdwaras, touching on the most notable ones, such as the Golden Temple, their common features and the principles of worship within them.

Related collection items